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Moses worked miracles just to achieve Olympic silver

I know most of you Wahoos are kidding - or at least I hope you are - when you brand Ed Moses a loser because he is not bringing an individual gold home from Sydney. What scares me are the few among you who aren't kidding.

Yeah, Moses got beaten in the 100-meter breaststroke over the weekend by some guy from a country (Italy) that had never won a swimming gold medal before. Second place is the first loser. I've heard that before. The guy who coined that phrase wasn't talking about the Olympics. And he certainly wasn't referring to a 20-year-old kid who just three years ago was concentrating more on keeping his drives on the fairway than on perfecting his pull and kick.

Related Links
  • Official Sydney Olympics Website
  • Official U.S. Swimming Web site
  • Ed Moses bio
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    Moses planned on going to college on an athletic scholarship; he just thought it would be for golf. Not until his senior year of high school did he channel all his energy into the pool, spurred on by the competition of the races and a whisper from his coach that he could be great if he perfected his technique.

    Much to Moses' chagrin, the national media at every turn has gushed over the improbability of the empirical rise his career has taken after the late switch to swimming. He would rather be known as the next great American breaststroker than as "that guy who used to be a golfer."

    Ed Moses is not one for excuses, but a serious swimming career of only three years is a perfectly acceptable excuse for missing an Olympic gold medal by 27 hundredths of a second. As Virginia swim coach Mark Bernardino pointed out, experience is absolutely crucial at a meet like the Olympics. World record breakers like the Netherlands' Inge de Bruijn and America's Tom Dolan have the wisdom of age, while even gold-medal teenagers like Australian 17-year old Ian Thorpe and American 16-year old Megan Quann have already become battle-hardened by years of cutthroat competitive swimming. Moses' first and previously only experience in a huge meet, the type of meet that can make your stomach do flips and turn your legs to jelly, came in the spring at the NCAA Championships.

    In an event like the Olympic 100 breast, where the difference between first and second can almost literally come down to a hangnail, Moses came up less than a third of a second short against the reigning European champion. Not too bad, if you ask me, even considering many observers thought he might win the thing outright.

    Most of you will probably forget about Moses in a month or so, even if he does the expected and captures another medal by swimming a leg for the U.S. men in Saturday's 400-meter medley relay. He won't even pop up on the fringes of your sports radar screen alongside the rest of the Cavalier swimmers, since he relinquished his NCAA eligibility in the spring in order to provide for his future with endorsement deals and piles of prize money.

    Moses will simply return to Charlottesville and focus on an anticipated career in sports medicine, all the while training for the Athens Olympics in 2004. He'll probably be disappointed if gold eludes him again in four years, but for now, join him in celebrating his accomplishment. When was the last time you won an Olympic medal?

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